Domain name definition
The domain name is the unique identifier for your website; GetMyWebsiteNow.com, for example, is a domain name. This is a logical choice for this site because it’s easy to remember and clearly defines the intent of the site, which is to provide resources for small businesses from startup through growth. Keep these considerations in mind as you choose your domain, selecting one that will allow site visitors to intuitively understand the purpose of your site.
Each domain name has a suffix, with .com being the most well known. Other suffixes include, .org for organizations and nonprofit agencies, .edu for educational institutions, and the like and .net originally intended for network technologies like Internet service providers.
Choosing your domain name
Businesses should, whenever possible, choose a domain name with the .com suffix. It can be tempting to select a more clever suffix with .pizza and .ninja now available, but most people automatically add .com to domain names because that’s what is most familiar. And, your goal in selecting a domain name, of course, is to be easily remembered and found. If the domain name you want isn’t available with a .com suffix, check next.
You will need to purchase your domain name, and many of them are relatively inexpensive. You can pay an annual fee to maintain your domain, or you can pay for multiple years at once at a discount. It’s possible that longer registrations may be a ranking factor but, more about SEO next, perhaps because it shows a commitment to the website you’ll be creating. Once you purchase a domain name, it remains your property as long as you keep up the payments.
Because there are nearly two billion domain names already purchased, it isn’t unusual to need to brainstorm multiple variations before settling on the right one for your small business. You can search to see what’s available and purchase domain names.
A recent study by HigherVisibilitym investigated how keyword usage in URLs affects rankings. The result? Nearly two-thirds of the top-ranking websites include keywords in their URLs, although statistics vary by industry. Since your domain name is automatically part of every single URL on your website, it therefore makes sense to consider keyword inclusion when choosing your domain name. Yes, Google representatives have said that keyword inclusion is only a small ranking factor, but studies seem to indicate otherwise. That said, don’t be spammy.
You’ll need to pick a keyword that is relevant to your business; here is an example we shared in a blog post on our site. If we sold blue widgets, it makes sense, SEO-wise, to select ChrisBlueWidgets.com instead of, say, ChrisGregorym. Besides being more helpful with SEO, it’s a more memorable name.
It can also help to add geo modifiers if your company is regional or local. So, perhaps in my case, FloridaBlueWidgets.com would make the most sense. Keep the domain name as short as is reasonable, because you want it easily remembered, and avoid hyphen use because people won’t necessarily remember to hyphenate your domain and, besides, it can look amateurish.
You may hear that your site has a unique IP address—don’t let that confuse you. It’s true that you’ll have one, but your domain name is automatically translated into an IP address through a service called DNS. You don’t need to do anything to make that happen.
Can you pronounce it?
Rand Fishkin at Moz.com brings up a good point: Even though people will be typing in your domain name or clicking a link, there is something called processing fluency that comes into play. This means that humans have a more positive association with something that can be easily said aloud andor pronounced in our minds. According to Fishkin, “If you can’t easily say the name, you’re going to lose processing fluency, memorability, and the benefits of brandability that you’ve created.”
It may be tempting to choose a domain name that resembles a more recognizable brand, in the hopes that some of their traffic will spill over to yours, but avoid that strategy. Brand confusion is generally not a positive over the long run, in part because you can run into trademark infringement issues, which can be quite expensive.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines infringement this way: “Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods andor services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods andor services.”
If you’re uncertain whether a domain name you’re considering has the potential to infringe a trademark, consult an attorney.
What about free domain names?
You may have heard about free domain names, and it’s true that you can get a free subdomain name at WordPressm. This is different from purchasing a domain name, different in a significant way. Assuming availability, you could purchase floridabluewidgetsm, and that is the domain name you’d use—and it could be hosted at WordPress.
However, if you decided to use a free subdomain name at WordPressm, your subdomain would be floridabluewidgets.wordpressm. This name is hard to remember and, again, can look amateurish. If you simply want to blog, using a free subdomain may be a good option, but it’s not for businesses that want to sell products andor services on their site.
On the one hand, you don’t want to stress TOO much about finding the perfect domain name, but you do want to make a strategic choice that will serve you well now and in the future. And, be sure to stay tuned because we have more thoughts about WordPress and why it’s the smart choice for small businesses.